JONG Uichico believes it’s just a matter of time before TnT Katropa gets to win another PBA championship.
Uichico, the former coach of the Katropa and now coaches academy head of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), said stacking up the team roster with young players is the step towards the right direction for the franchise to reclaim its lost glory.
“I think TnT is on the right track. I think they are already rebuilding, getting young players, trying to find the right system, and doing everything they can,” said the 57-year-old coach.
Uichico was the last one to steer the flagship team of the MVP Group to a championship following TnT’s triumph in the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup against Rain or Shine in a best-of-seven series that went the full route.
The Katropa have not won a league title since then, although they made it to the finals twice in the 2017 and 2019 Commissioner’s Cup, respectively, only to fall short in both times.
But Uichico said the Katropa just have to be patient as success doesn’t come overnight especially for a franchise that has been on a rebuilding mode.
“Hindi rin naman kasi ganoon kadali mag-rebuild,” he said.
But Uichico noted the good move made by the Katropa to have young players such as sophomore Bobby Ray Parks, Simon Enciso, Jayjay Alejandro, and rookies Kib Montalbo and Val Chauca complement the team’s veteran rosters built around team captain Jayson Castro.
The champion coach added it is also a big welcome for TnT to finally find a legitimate big in Poy Erram and a young reliever in Lervin Flores.
“I think it will come,” said Uichico.
He even recalled how his former teams San Miguel and Barangay Ginebra, respectively, also took a while before they won championships again after he left the team.
The Beermen waited four years before they won their first title following the exit of Uichico, bagging the 2009 Fiesta Cup under coach Siot Tanquingcen.
The Kings meanwhile, had to endure an eight-year gap after Uichico left, before finally winning the 2016 Governors Cup with coach Tim Cone at the helm.
“So it’s been five years (TnT), but I think sooner or later it will come,” he said. “Like San Miguel Beer after me, it will come. Like Ginebra after me, it will come.”